Summer School: How To Attend A Renaissance Fair, Or, How To Be A 'Rennie'

Jul 20, 2016

Renaissance fairs pop up all over the country in the summertime, attracting so-called "rennies" donning their period garb and talking like Shakespeare. For this installment of our "Summer School" series, we spent some time at the Vermont Renaissance Faire in Stowe to learn how to get medieval.

Amber and Eric Roberts of Danville provided guidance on how to be a rennie.

They mention a few must-haves for the event – Amber Roberts suggests having water, sunscreen and head wear to prevent sunburns, with Eric Roberts echoing the importance to stay hydrated. With the essentials covered, the fair awaits.

"We are time traveling," Amber Roberts says. "Hold on to your seat, because it's going to be a wild ride."

The Event:

  • Eric: "There's music, there's people and there's dancing. So when you're first walking in, [you'll] come across the market area. As you progress through time, you'll first come across the Viking encampment and then further on is the joust field itself."

The Costumes:

  • Amber: "A rennie is somebody who would go to a Renaissance fair or medieval fair of some kind and have a good time, whether in costume that's accurate or in a fun costume. But it's all about dressing up and having a good time."
  • Eric: "I'm just an unlanded knight. Right now, I've got on a common men's hood. Also, like a linen coat. Tied about myself, I've got ... a couple of belts, as well as a horseman's longsword."
  • Amber: "I have my open London hood on. You wouldn't want your hair or neck showing if you were a proper lady. I have my long linen gown, as well as a belt and my trusty mug for when I inevitably stop for some mead."

Eric and Amber Roberts dressed in costume at the 2016 Vermont Renaissance Faire in Stowe.
Credit Courtesy of "The Valley CW" Facebook page

The People:

  • Amber: "Everybody here is a performer, whether they know it or not. You don't come to a 'ren fair' to hide in the corner and not be seen ... I'm here to engage fairgoers that seem to want to be engaged. It's ideal if there's a crowd around the person that you're going to be visiting with, because then you can really make a show of it."

The Language:

  • Eric: "Rennie speak is more like a creative anachronism in itself. You'll find a lot of people saying things like you might find in a Shakespeare play."
  • Amber: "You'll hear a lot of 'ayes' instead of 'yeses'. Some exclamations of 'forsooth!'"

The Shopping:

  • Amber: "You come to the fair to eat and to drink and to buy. There's a tarot reader that I'm definitely going to see. I saw some bodices that I will need to be checking out – can always use a bodice or three."

Master Marcus Bowyer, of the Brotherhood of the Arrow and Sword, a medieval living history and combat demonstration group, speaks to a crowd at the Vermont Renaissance Faire in Stowe.
Credit James Buck / Vermont Renaissance Faire

The Food:

  • Amber: "I smell something delicious ... I have found my food. I've got some tabbouleh – and utensils are for amateurs."
  • Eric: "I have a börek and a vegetable samosa."

The Drinks:

  • Amber: "You've got to get to the mead tent. Mead is a delicious sweet drink that lingers after you've had it and leaves you feeling slightly fuzzy."

The Takeaway:

  • Eric: "There are a lot of people here that are just here to have fun. It's good to get out and see the public to come through and just have them ask questions. You can show them what everything is. It's more of an educational thing for me than anything else."
  • Amber: "We're always learning from each other. It's a lot of fun to just kind of share your knowledge and teach somebody. Maybe even learn something from them."